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Breaking the Cycle: Addressing the "What's Next" Syndrome in Leadership

Tackling the "What’s Next" Trap in Leadership

Do you live your life merely to reach the end?

Most would answer "no" to this question, yet not everyone acts as though they truly believe it. We plan and strive as if the only value in our experiences lies at the end of our journey, often overlooking the richness of the moments along the way. This contradiction is what often fuels the perpetual dissatisfaction found in modern leadership.

In leadership, it's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of the next promotion or the next big strategy. We often believe that achieving these milestones will bring us the fulfillment and satisfaction we crave. However, many leaders find themselves feeling empty, despite their successes. This is what I call the 'What's Next' Syndrome—a relentless pursuit of the next achievement or the latest leadership strategy. As leaders, this mindset can leave us feeling perpetually unsatisfied, always chasing the next big thing instead of appreciating where we are and what we’ve accomplished. Originally explored by Robert Holden's discussions on 'destination addiction,' this syndrome captures the essence of our societal drive to constantly look ahead, often neglecting the profound elements of effective leadership: clarity, connection, and confidence. This addiction can be damaging, not just to our own well-being but also to the way we lead others.

I recall striving tirelessly for the next promotion, convinced it would bring the ultimate satisfaction I craved. However, each achievement felt less fulfilling than anticipated and I was not connecting with my students, colleagues, and even my family. This endless pursuit led to a wake-up call, realizing that I had been more focused on the destination than on the journey itself and the real impact of my work.

Leadership today is bombarded with trends and tactics proclaiming to be the key to success.

From transformational leadership models to innovative strategy blueprints, it's easy to get caught up in the current of what’s most popular. However, these strategies often only take us so far. True leadership effectiveness comes not from merely applying strategies but from developing a deep understanding of oneself. This clarity allows leaders to connect authentically and lead with confidence.

First Step in Overcoming 'What's Next' Syndrome


The first step in combating the 'What's Next' Syndrome is to cultivate self-clarity. This involves a deep dive into understanding your motivations, values, and the impact you wish to have as a leader. Self-clarity isn't just about knowing what you do well—it's about recognizing where you need to grow and how your leadership style aligns with your deeper purpose. Consider a leader who identifies as a driven, goal-oriented individual but struggles with team connectivity. By gaining clarity about their leadership style, they can begin to understand why certain strategies haven't worked and adjust their approach to include more collaborative methods.

According to research from Korn Ferry, leaders who demonstrate high self-awareness are more likely to succeed because they understand how their behaviors and values align with their organization's culture and goals. Moreover, a Harvard Business Review study highlights that leaders who engage in regular self-reflection are better able to develop the strategic foresight needed for long-term success.

One powerful tool to facilitate this is the Enneagram assessment. This assessment helps leaders uncover their personality type and core motivations, providing deep insights into their leadership styles and how these can be aligned with their authentic selves.

For leaders looking to deepen their understanding of self and enhance their effectiveness, I offer the Breakthrough Blueprint service. This personalized coaching program builds on the insights gained from the Enneagram to help leaders develop strategies that are not only effective but also true to their core values.

In my work with developing leaders, I often find that they are initially searching for the next best strategy to motivate their teams, but as we peel back the layers, we start with the foundation of aligning their actions with their core values.

Leadership success loves clarity.




To enhance self-clarity, engage in regular self-assessment exercises, seek feedback from peers and mentors, and reflect on your leadership experiences. Consider keeping a leadership journal where you can reflect on daily interactions, decisions, and feelings about your leadership approach. This practice can illuminate patterns and areas for improvement, helping to ground your leadership in authenticity and foresight.

To start developing self-clarity right now, here's a simple exercise: Define What Truly Matters. Begin by identifying what brings you joy and fulfillment beyond titles and achievements. Ask yourself:

  • What aspects of my role bring me the most satisfaction?

  • Is it the growth of my team, the impact of my work, or perhaps the innovation I bring to my field?

Understanding these elements can shift your focus from mere achievements to the values and impact that define authentic leadership. Reflecting on these questions can help you begin to align your actions with your true priorities.

Your Challenge for this Week

This week, challenge yourself to tackle the 'What's Next' Syndrome by focusing on self-clarity. Select one aspect of your leadership role—be it decision-making, team management, or strategic planning. Reflect deeply on how your values and personality influence this area. What insights can you gain about your leadership style? How can these insights help you lead more effectively?

Take a moment each day to reflect on your decisions and interactions. Ask yourself if they truly represent your values and who you are as a leader. Make adjustments as needed to ensure authenticity in your leadership style. Notice how this alignment impacts your relationships and effectiveness as a leader.


As always, I LOVE hearing from you… what are you taking from today’s content?


Comment below or email me at


Until next week, keep thriving!


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